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Nick Schager 

Film, Film Reviews

Rob Reiner's And So It Goes Provides More Groans Than Laughs

With Jack Nicholson still enjoying his retirement, it falls to Michael Douglas to swoon over the oh-so-cutesy Diane Keaton in And So It Goes, a timid, elder rom-com in the same wheelhouse as the 2003 Nicholson-Keaton teaming, Something’s Gotta Give. A film of nothing but soft edges, director Rob Reiner’s...…
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Film, The Welcome Return of Kurt Russell

The Welcome Return of Kurt Russell

A wise man — or, more precisely, a wise-ass trucker named Jack Burton — once opined that "it’s all in the reflexes." Few actors have had better reflexes than Kurt Russell, who makes a welcome return to theaters this weekend in The Art of the Steal. Having been largely MIA...…
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Film,

The Triumph of Frozen, the First Disney Princess Movie About Girls Rather Than for Them

How retrograde are many of the core tenets of the Disney princess? Consider this: My daughter owns a book called Snow White’s Secret, in which Disney's royal archetype reveals her devilish hidden life: When the Dwarfs are working at the mine, she sneaks into their cottage and joyfully cleans the...…
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Film, All the Oscar-Nominated Shorts, Reviewed

All the Oscar-Nominated Shorts, Reviewed

Who says award-season winners have to be epic? If you're looking for an alternative to the lengthy features vying for recognition and box-office glory, ShortsHD and Magnolia Pictures have on offer the full slate of 2014 Oscar-nominated short films. Divided into three categories (documentary, animation, live-action), each featuring five nominees,...…
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The Past, Asghar Farhadi's Follow-Up to Oscar Winner A Separation

Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi solidifies his status as one of cinema's finest living dramatists with The Past, a superb follow-up to his 2011 Oscar-winning A Separation, which again situates audiences amid interpersonal, familial and household crises. Working from a script that incisively plumbs a thicket of logistical and emotional complications,...…
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Film, Mainstream Movie Porn Sucks: How Real Sex in Real Movies Is a Real Distraction

Mainstream Movie Porn Sucks: How Real Sex in Real Movies Is a Real Distraction

Porn reinserts itself into the arthouse with this week's The Canyons, co-starring adult-industry stud James Deen, and next week's Lovelace, a biopic of the Deep Throat star—two highly publicized releases that reconfirm the hopelessness of going hardcore in mainstream movies. Whether it's works that inject un-simulated sex into their fictionalized...…
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Film,

The Act of Killing, 2013's First Masterpiece

More terrifying than any horror film, and more intellectually adventurous than just about any 2013 release so far, The Act of Killing is a major achievement: a work about genocide that rightly earns its place alongside Shoah as a supreme testament to the cinema's capacity for inquiry, confrontation and remembrance...…
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Girl Most Likely, a Jersey-vs.-Manhattan Comedy

Less funny than her worst SNL sketch, Girl Most Likely strands Kristen Wiig in a dreadful, disingenuous city-versus-suburbs comedy that mercilessly mocks New Jersey before turning around and celebrating its provincial trashiness over the hoity-toity snootiness of Manhattan. Fired from her job and dumped by her boyfriend, once-promising playwright Imogene...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Grown Ups 2 Has No Real Plot to Speak of

Adam Sandler pats his own back for being loyal in Grown Ups 2, an excuse for the star to hang out with his friends while he plays a Hollywood bigwig who’s celebrated for moving back home so he can hang out with his friends. Like its 2010 predecessor, Dennis Dugan’s...…
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Adam Sandler's Laziness: Why Nothing Changes in Movie After Movie

Adam Sandler is successful because he's lazy. Not lazy in the sense that he has no ambition, or doesn’t want to work hard to maintain his status as America’s big-screen comedy king. But in the sense that Sandler has built an empire by doing the same things with the same...…
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Film, Disney TV Is Poisoning Your Daughters

Disney TV Is Poisoning Your Daughters

I recognize that, even coming from a father of two preteen daughters, that headline might sound alarmist, so let me elaborate—the Disney Channel and its prime competitor, Nickelodeon's Teen Nick, are a pox upon our tween nation, corrosive forces that impart more awful messages than any of Disney's retrograde princess...…
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Film, After 44 Years, Hollywood Is Finally Smart Enough to Make a Judy Blume Movie

After 44 Years, Hollywood Is Finally Smart Enough to Make a Judy Blume Movie

Judy Blume's first novel, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo, was published in 1969, yet it's only now, 44 years later, that the first big-screen adaptation of her work—Tiger Eyes, based on 1981's novel of the same name—finally opens in theaters. This is a disgrace. One can...…
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After Auteur: How M. Night Shyamalan Became Just Another Director

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Ethan Hawke, Before and After: Watching an Actor Grow Up

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Uwe Boll, Worst Director Alive, to Wall Street Execs: "Don't Think You're Safe"

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Stoker Review: In the Hotly Anticipated Sundance Film, Girlhood Blooms Into Violence

Puberty is sex and sex is murder in Stoker, a Hitchcockian stew of hothouse familial jealousy, sadism and psychosis all tied together by one teenage girl's homicidal coming of age. Psychosexual imagery permeates every inch of renowned South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook's stateside debut. A blood-tipped pencil, or water dripping...…
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Film, Film Reviews

Oscar-Nominated Shorts 2013: From a Simpsons Segment to a Woman Who Lives on the Ceiling

There's scant dialogue but plenty of eloquent storytelling in the five animated short films up for a 2013 Oscar, all of which — along with their live-action and documentary counterparts — will get a pre-award-show release at various Southland cinemas. Save for a five-minute Simpsons segment ("Maggie Simpson in 'The...…
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Why Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning's John Hyams Could Be Our Best Action Film Director

If David Cronenberg and Luc Besson had a mutant baby, it still wouldn't be able to make a movie quite as hypnotically badass as Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, a fact that might be surprising to those who reasonably assumed that the Jean-Claude Van Damme–and–Dolph Lundgren–headlined franchise had died some...…
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Film, Film Reviews <i>Red Hook Summer</i> Review: Spike Lee Returns to the Brooklyn Panorama

Red Hook Summer Review: Spike Lee Returns to the Brooklyn Panorama

Spike Lee returns to the Brooklyn neighborhoods of his most famous works — including his celebrated Do the Right Thing — with Red Hook Summer, and an early shot suggests that this trip home has reinvigorated the director. Tracking his protagonists as they navigate a courtyard in the projects, meeting...…
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Film, <i>Bad Fever</i> Review

Bad Fever Review

King of Comedy: Filmmaker Kentucker Audley stars in '70s-flavored Bad Fever The shaky handheld cinematography might be conventionally modern, but from its opening white-letters-on-red-background credit sequence to its diligent focus on a wayward loner drifting about the outskirts of society and sanity, Bad Fever has the empathetic soul of '70s...…
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